Monthly Archives: October 2013

Working Again!

I have a seasonal job with a local credit card company. It’s a call center, but it’s a posh call center. I don’t have to juggle nearly as many different kinds of call as I did at my old job, the stress level is lower overall, there are actually perks associated with working there, and it’s a very pleasant facility.

There’s a chance that they may be hiring more permanently later; but if nothing else, it’s money, experience, and a pretty nice full time job, as temp work goes.


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A More Complete Text of Fatherless Fanny

Once upon a time on my Maria Lectrix blog, I recorded a public domain audiobook of Fatherless Fanny, a Regency Gothic novel written in the Regency which inspired many later authors, including Thackeray (who uses Fanny-like characters and settings in Vanity Fair), Frances Hodgson Burnett (from her mother’s retelling) and Georgette Heyer (who obviously liked its humor tone and adopted it). The best text I could find was a nicely illustrated edition from 1820.

However, at the time I felt that the last section was missing something, as the chapter names mostly disappeared and some chapters were essentially summarized. I looked around online and off, but couldn’t find a better edition; so I assumed that the publisher had rushed the author for some reason.

However, it turns out that a full text is now available online, courtesy of and the University of Illinois-Urbana’s digitization of their rare books. The text is in four volumes, and the new-to-me material is in Volume 4. The chapter numbers are somewhat different in this 1811 edition, also.

Basically, Mr. Hamilton finishes his story, and then Fanny is abducted to Ireland; but now we learn what Mr. Hamilton and Albemarle were doing during all this, and Fanny’s experiences are filled out as well. The new characters in Ireland are also much better done.

It would appear indeed that the anonymous authoress (probably not Clara Reeve, either) had a great kindness for Ireland and the Irish people, because they fare very well. We actually get the great line, “Lord Ballafyn was an Irishman in all things save honor.” This may be why the book was sometimes attributed to a very famouse Irish romance author, Maria Edgeworth.

Here are the chapter titles:

Chapter 21: An Affecting Story continued

Chapter 22: An Affecting Story continued

Chapter 23: Consternation

Chapter 24: Elucidation

Chapter 25: The Hibernian

Chapter 26: Retrospection

Chapter 27: Developement [sic]

Chapter 28: The Haunted Rock

Chapter 29: The Duel

Chapter 30: The Marriage

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The Glorious Feast of Ss. Nunilo and Alodia!

It’s that time of year again, and Father Z is giving my blog a Z-lanche!

Nunilo and Alodia were two well-to-do Christian young ladies in Muslim Spain. Their mother was Christian and raised them that way, but their father and their stepfather were both Muslim. Pressured to marry Muslims and to convert, they resisted both and gave their lives for Christ.

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The Martyr’s Jig

An American POW, Alexander Makaroumis, was in the same North Korean prison with Msgr. Patrick “Pat” Brennan, Fr. Thomas “Tommy” Cusack, and Fr. John “Jack/Jackie” O’Brien, three Columban missionaries who are now listed among the 81 North Korean Martyrs whose cause for beatification is being considered.

Makaroumis reported that the priests were constantly concerned to keep up the prisoners’ spirits:

“At other times, [Monsignor Brennan]’d encourage Father O’Brien to sing us a song and do one of his Irish jigs. Father O’Brien sort of made you forget you were cooped up in a prison cell, and sent you flying back home….”

Later the prisoners were moved to a prison near Seoul, at the old monastery at Taejon/Daejon. When the war started going against the North Koreans, the priests were massacred with over a thousand other prisoners to prevent them falling into UN hands. Brennan, Cusack, and O’Brien’s death date was September 24, 1950.

These three men are currently under consideration to become Venerables, Blesseds, and (God willing) Saints named on the altar. They are listed as part of the 80 companions of Hong Yong-ho Franciscus Borgia and 80 Companions. Fr. O’Brien is number 50 on the list.

Fr. O’Brien’s native place was Donamon, County Roscommon, Ireland. He was born on December 1, 1918, so he may become the first saint from Ireland’s days as a republic.

A page on the many Columban martyrs, in Korea and elsewhere. Some of them are men who died violently in the course of their priestly duties, although not probably killed for hatred of the faith. The most recent death listed was in 2001, in the Philippines. Please pray for their souls and ask them to pray for us.

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The Mysterious Fate of the Bishop of Pyongyang

After holding out hope for his survival since 1949, this year the Vatican declared Bishop Francis Borgia Hong Yong-Ho dead, and declared a vacancy in the diocese of Pyongyang, North Korea. That diocese didn’t actually exist until 1962; it was created by Pope John XXIII in the hope that he’d survived. (Hong was consecrated a bishop and served as an Apostolic Vicar from 1944 on. There were several Apostolic Vicariates in the north of Korea at that time.)

Obviously if he had apostasized, the Communists would have publicized that; and if he’d been on the run, one would expect that word would eventually have gotten out. So the question is pretty much whether he was killed right away, “disappeared” by the Communists, captured and killed later, captured and imprisoned only to die of something, or…. ? Nobody knows, or is telling.

So any way you slice it, he’s probably dead, and he almost certainly died a martyr. If he were still alive, he’d be 106. It’s very doubtful that anybody in North Korea is able to survive that long, much less an “enemy of the state.” So he’s now officially dead, and his see officially vacant. (Unless Pope Francis has appointed another bishop “in pectore”, secretly.) As far as anybody knows, there are no priests living in North Korea. Cardinal Cheong of Seoul is officially also administering Pyongyang.

However, declaring him dead cleared the way for including him as one of the 81 North Korean martyrs in a new cause for beatification. (Obviously there’s bound to have been more than 81 martyrs, since 55,000 to 300,000 North Korean Catholics disappeared from human ken; but documentation is difficult.) Here’s the list of the martyrs in question: Hong Yong-ho Franciscus Borgia and 80 Companions.

Three of these are American: Fr. Patrick James Byrne was a Maryknoll Missionary. Msgr. Patrick Brennan from Chicago, Illinois, who’d been serving as the Apostolic Vicar of Kwangju/Gwangju; and Fr. James Maginn from Butte, Montana; both were in Korea with the Missionary Society of St. Columban. There are also several Irish, Belgian, and French natives on the list, although there’s a ton more Koreans. Finally, there was another O’Brien martyr: Fr. John O’Brien from Donamon, Roscommon, Ireland (also a St. Columban Missionary priest).

Here’s another cause for beatification: the 36 Martyrs of Tokwon (Abbot/Bishop Boniface Sauer, Fr. Benedict Kim, and Companions). Under Abbot Boniface, Tokwon Abbey had previously created a Korean-language missal, and translated all the NT epistles and the Book of Revelation, none of which had been available in Korean before. At one point, their seminary was the only seminary the Japanese occupiers allowed to stay open; and during WWII, their vineyard was the only one still growing, and supplied Mass wine to all the Catholics in Korea. So they were prominent, and targeted early by the Communists. The 36 Martyrs also include lay catechists, a priest from another abbey, and some nuns from a convent nearby. There are some amazing stories in the biography section, so take a look.

Those foreign monks and nuns who survived the camps were repatriated in 1953. (They’d be “confessors,” if you ever wondered what that meant.)

A list of the martyrs of Korea.

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Pig Heads in Korea

Okay… here’s a custom I was totally unaware of.

In Korea, at the start of a new school year or a new business, or on the acquisition of a new car or new house, etc., there’s a custom in Korean shamanism of setting up an offering altar to the gods and ancestral spirits. The producers of many South Korean TV shows also do this at the start of filming a new season. The offerings are mostly various foods, but the main offering is a pig’s head with money stuffed in its ears and mouth. After various prayers and ceremonies asking for the blessings and favor of the gods (often described as “bowing to the pig’s head”), the attendees eat the food offerings (I’m not sure what’s done with the money). This is called “kosa” or “gosa.” There’s also a pig-less ritual called “jaesa.”

Every so often, this is done in the US by Koreans also. (Although most Koreans in the US are Catholics or Protestants, who wouldn’t.) And of course a lot of Americans end up on US bases in South Korea or doing business with South Korean companies. So it’s probably good to know about this, so you won’t end up entangled in anything you don’t intend. Apparently it’s usually not offensive to just observe (or excuse yourself from going), as of course many Koreans are Christians too.

However, people also eat pig’s head for other reasons, just like anywhere else in Asia, or in frugal countries that use every part of the pig.

Here are some accounts of this:

At a Korean science and engineering university. An non-Korean Christian finds himself attending such a ceremony at another Korean university. Another non-Korean runs into a pig-head ceremony in the computer room at work, for a new server. Another non-Korean teaching at a school.

Kosa for new construction at a hospital. This non-Korean actually ends up as one of the main participants doing the offerings, which would seem to definitely be a no-no for a Christian! I don’t think this guy realized it was religious, though; it sounds like he just thought his co-workers thought it was lucky, and he was going along with it for politeness’ sake. And it sounds like a lot of Koreans just think it’s lucky, also, so he might have been right in his interpretation.

Kosa for a new car.

More details. Sometimes the pig head is replaced by a cake that looks like a pig head.

Problems with getting a head during the hoof and mouth disease epidemic.

Comparison of Hawaiian and Korean ceremonies for new ventures.

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Anti-Catholicism Plus Fear of Islam = Bad History

I recently ran across some old blog posts about the papers presented at the big Kalamazoo medieval history conference. It’s one of those things that’s simultaneously impressive and interesting, while pointing out that the vast majority of people with medieval history degrees don’t work in their fields, or indeed, in academia.

Anyway, apparently the famous Walter Goffart at the end of his career presented a pedagogical paper on how to introduce Christianity to college students, particularly in reference to the late Roman Empire/early Middle Ages, which was his field. He presented the basic concepts of Christianity and its social consequences in terms of seven concepts.

But one of his seven concepts was that Christianity kills those who don’t convert. And the criticism of attendees mostly focused on how they thought he should have emphasized the bloody black legend of Christianity even more. One poster even had the idea that obviously there had been much more killing during the first to third centuries, because obviously Christians being persecuted by the Romans had nothing better to do than sneak around as ninjas, eliminating the heretics; and that the Roman government that was always coming up with horrible stories about Christian misdeeds would not have brought this up on anybody’s persecution chargesheets.

Well, first of all, let’s think about the tolerant nature of Roman or Germanic paganism. Both Romans and Germans did a fair amount of killing over religious disagreements. Ask the Druids, too, who both killed and were killed over religion.

Second, let’s think about which major religion of the time period was engaged in taking over the entire Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe with fire and sword, sparing non-co-religionists only for the purpose of enslaving them instead. Garsh, I seem to remember one. Five letter word, starts with an I… oh, yeah, Islam.

So what is the real issue here?

The real issue is that Charlemagne massacred the Saxons. Why did he massacre them? Because he didn’t like them and their war techniques, since they were very destructive next door neighbors. Being able to complain about them not being Christians, or about them providing martyrdom opportunities to missionaries who had visited them, was just icing on the cake. “Converting” the survivors was not about Christianity so much as about sending in Carolingian administrators after the slaughter, declaring the survivors tax-paying subjects of Charlemagne (and incidentally, Christians), and then sending in some missionaries and monks to help out with the Carolingizing process.

Was this any of the traditional ways to convert a population?


Did Charlemagne get reprimanded by his own Christian contemporaries?

Yes. Especially those who didn’t work for him and lived outside his borders.

So yeah, maybe it’s a good thing that this Goffart guy has retired, but obviously there are a lot of like-minded bigots coming up behind him.


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All Your Homo Erectus Belong to One Species

At the ancient watering hole of Dmanisi, Georgia, they have more Homo erectus than we’ve ever found anywhere. None of this “bits of jaw” stuff.

And now that they can see more than bits of jaw, it turns out that the many separate “species” were just different-looking Homo erectus individuals of different ages and sexes.

So I guess Dmanisi is the new Olduvai.


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2014: Year of the My Little Wood Horse

Yes, the popularity of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic collides with Chinese New Year and a Year of the Horse.

Well, it’s certainly cheerful! And since the traditional Chinese belief is that strong, clashing, neon colors scare the heck out of demons and thus are lucky at holiday time, you can see where MLP can fit in.

The comments reveal that Hasbro has done this before, with a Littlest Pet Shop rabbit for the Year of the Rabbit. Mm, mm, global money….

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Disaster Relief for South Dakota Cattle Farmers

You may not have heard about it, but 75,000 head of cattle died in the freak South Dakota snowstorm a few weeks ago. They didn’t have winter coats yet, it rained, and then it snowed. Massive cow hypothermia.

So obviously, the ranchers are hurting. You can’t sell cows that die in a snowstorm. You can’t even eat them, because obviously they were rotting by the time the ranchers could get to the pastures. So a lot of people have lost pretty much everything.

So here’s a relief fund for this horrible disaster that has gone almost unmentioned in the national news.

Foxfier mentioned this over on According to Hoyt.

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Scalzi and the Dayton Daily News

In the past, the Dayton Daily News has been Johnny on the spot when it came to local sf writer news. I don’t know if that’s due to the sf fans on staff (there’ve always been quite a few), or the writers putting out timely press releases.

However, the Dayton Daily didn’t report John Scalzi’s Hugo award until October 13. Then they put it under premium content, so I can’t even link to it here if I wanted, much less read the story myself.

Then again, I don’t think they ever reported on Scalzi at all, before, though I could be wrong about that as I rarely read the paper anymore.

Don’t know what it means. But I’m reporting it.

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SAINT Angela of Foligno!

Following a suggestion by one of the Italian cardinals, Pope Francis canonized Bl. Angela of Foligno today. By decree. As of, she’s been an official saint in the calendar of the Church for hours and hours already!

SAINT Angela of Foligno was married with kids, and a Third Order Franciscan. She was also a mystic and an advocate of women’s education. She wrote The Book of Divine Consolation, among other books and letters, and has been called “the Mistress of Theologians” for her theological teaching. She dictated her books to her spiritual director, who spent a lot of effort on making sure they were truly her words and ideas.

She was born in 1248. She was from a prominent family, but her father died young and her mother raised her haphazardly. (She didn’t learn to read, as many Italian women did.) She was married and started having kids at the not-super-young age of 20, but she didn’t really feel loved by her husband. He was apparently not a nice guy. In revenge, she got drunk on the increased freedom of being away from her parents’ house as a matron, and started leading an extravagant medieval party girl lifestyle.

Then she started to think about her life, but she was so embarrassed by her sins that she couldn’t bring herself to actually confess them. So she asked St. Francis for help finding a good confessor. And later that night, in the year 1285, at the age of 37, she had a vision of the saint. He told her that if she’d asked him sooner, she’d have been granted one sooner!

And the next morning she did find a good confessor, who luckily had the special powers from the bishop to forgive even the Really Big Sins. (Which leads one to wonder just what she’d been up to, poor lady.) She didn’t get any of that “wiped clean” feeling of consolation, though; she says she felt nothing but “bitterness, shame, and pain.” But she got the job done anyway, which is an example of toughing it out, and she made it through her penance, even though she felt so sad. But after a lot of reparation for her sins, she started to feel love and joy for God, and had more visions and guidance from God. Things do get better.

But then there was another twist of fate. Her husband — and her mother — and every single one of her children — all died within a short time. She responded by selling everything both families had owned. She lived as a hermit with only one companion, in a house near the local Franciscan parish. She became a Third Order Franciscan under the guidance of her spiritual director, and her holiness drew many other local people into the Third Order also.

But she actually met her spiritual director at the worst possible moment! She was visiting Assisi’s basilica of St. Francis on pilgrimage, and had a vision of great consolation. Then Jesus withdrew His Presence just when things were getting good, and poor St. Angela started shrieking with sorrow for losing Him. Right at this moment, her spiritual director-to-be came up and told her to shut the heck up and not come back ever again, if she was going to screech like that in front of church! But he apparently was interested to find out what the heck was going on with her, so he actually met up with her a few days later. She was a lot calmer (obviously) and impressed him with her holiness. And so their partnership began.

Eventually she founded a live-in Third Order community of women. Unusually for the time, they didn’t take a vow of enclosure like nuns because they wanted to be able to do good works in the community, and particularly to care for the poor. Her community of women became her new children. But she didn’t live with them; she stayed a hermit with her one companion.

She died in 1309. There have been miracles at her tomb ever since she was first buried.

Her feast day has been January 7, in the US. I don’t know what it will be now.

Pope Benedict XVI’s audience talk on Angela of Foligno.

“The Mystical Journey of Angela of Foligno” – an essay about the steps of her mystical union with God. (This was before St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, but they probably all drew on St. John Climakos’ imagery of a ladder to God.) has The Book of Divine Consolation by St. Angela of Foligno; translated by Mary G. Steegmann. So does Google Books. Also available as a public domain audiobook from Librivox, and in video-ish format through YouTube. This version was not translated from the Latin of Br. Arnaldo, but from the first Italian translation (1510) which was one of the earliest vernacular printed books in Italy (and very popular too).

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Holy Yeti, Holy Brigadier?

Henry Lincoln, one of the early Doctor Who writers, and one of the co-creators of the Yeti and Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, was also one of the co-authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail??

Boy, that one guy with the conspiracy site about sf television shows must be in hog heaven.

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Convoy on the Beltway

Truckers protest today.

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